As I've said in an earlier post. I belong to a group where most of the members are quite young. Lately, we've started a monthly writing contest and I've declined from active participation in lieu of posting the winner's entry here. January's contest genre was historical and humor, and the winner was Rose.
Here is her entry:
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: T, for some swearing and slightly adult themes
Word Count: 1,000 words. DEAR GOD this was HARD to only write 1,000 WORDS!! I NEED MORE ROOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! >.< But I did it, so there!
Summary: At first this was just supposed to be a stand alone story, but, like I do so many other things, my mind just branched out ideas and now I may or may not turn this into a full-fledged book. Besides, I've always wanted to write a Western!! Oh right, the summary... *clears throat*
Solomon Grant; the most dangerous outlaw west of Tennessee. He's killed many men and held no remorse, which is partly why the government is sparing no expense in having him caught, but after a shoot out with the sheriff and his men in the town of Sweetwater, which ended with the entire police force dead, Solomon starts acting differently and only his right hand man, Johnny "Ace" Carter, seem to realize this.
We arrive just at the point when Solomon explains his odd behaviour.
I will ask of you not to reveal why in case other don't read this, I want to entice them as much as possible to read this, so please, if you're going to say you liked it, do it without spoiling the ending.
Solomon barely gave the sign tacked on sheriff’s station a second look, he wasn’t intent on reading what he was charged with; he already knew. He cued his horse to continue walking and his group followed as they lazily rode into town. Swiftshot turned to see the door wide open and the sheriff passed out with a bottle next to him; he had to stifle his laughter.
Solomon slowed down to a stop, jumped off his horse and walked off. Marshal caught up to tie both Solomon’s horse to the rail and his own. Soon, however, Rocky jumped off his own horse and handed the reign to Marshal, as did Ace. Marshal groaned and proceeded to tie their horses as well, just as Swiftshot slapped his back and handed his own horse’s reign with a raucous laugh.
Solomon stretched his arms forward and stiffened them as he rammed through the swinging doors of the town’s saloon. It was bustling with life and none of the patrons even seemed to notice that an outlaw had come in here with his gang of what some might call ‘outlaws.’ He preferred to think of themselves as ‘lawfully impaired.’
“Go ahead boys;” he said to his men, “you’ve earned it.”
The men smiled as they shoved their way to the barkeep, each shouting their preferred drink at the overworked man.
“You want anything, boss?” Ace, his second-in-command, asked.
Solomon smiled, “Same old.”
Ace nodded and turned around to get their drinks.
Solomon ushered himself to the corner of the building, his favorite spot in any tavern; should someone come in and rustle up trouble, he’d be well out of their vantage point.
Ace was the first to follow Solomon to his seat, followed by Marshal, Rocky, and Swiftshot. Solomon gave a polite smile as his boys drunk wholeheartedly, regaling each other- as well as a few ladies- about their most recent adventure. Their boisterous laughs were the loudest in the bar.
Solomon, though, sat there quietly, not wanting to spoil the fun. Instead, he sat there with his whiskey untouched as he looked over his gun again and again, absorbing every detail he could that he didn’t already know.
The problem with his men, it seemed to Solomon, is that they had an endless supply of energy and a seemingly bottomless stomach. Although he hated the thought of interrupting the rejoicing with his announcement, it was almost sunset and it had to be said, if not now then never.
“Boys,” he said in a solemn voice, it shot through their laughter like one of his own bullets.
They put down their drinks and gave him their full attention.
“What is it, boss?” Ace asked. However, Solomon could tell that Ace already knew. He could tell from the youth’s saddening hazel eyes.
“You boys remember that tiff we got into a few days ago?” Solomon asked, the rim of his hat covering his eyes more than usual.
“Yeah,” Swiftshot said, still bubbling with excitement, “Best gun fight I’ve had in years!”
Ace leered at his brother, only then did Swiftshot realize he should quiet down.
“Boys,” he said in a low voice, “the sheriff of the last town...he...” he bit his lip and smacked the tabletop in frustration, the words were hard to get out, “...I think he was my baby brother.”
The men looked at each other in sudden realization.
“Boss,” Marshal said in a quiet voice, “you saying you shot...?”
Solomon pushed down the tears of shame once more and shook his head.
“But that’s not what you wanted to tell us, is it?” Ace said sadly, his own hat beginning to cover his eyes.
“Boys,” Solomon started up again, “I can’t keep doing this, neither should you.”
“Doing what?” Rocky asked.
“Being an outlaw,” he replied, “It’s not right. I’m done. All you should too.”
Swiftshot growled, “What do you mean we should be done? Where the hell are we supposed to go? We don’t know anything else, that’s why we do this!”
“You boys are still young,” Solomon insisted, “You can learn something new.”
“What about you?” Marshal asked, “I mean, its not that you’re old or anything you just...it’s just, it’s your face that’s plastered all over ever sheriff’s station from here to Tennessee.”
“I know,” Solomon said as he finally chugged down his whiskey, “And I’m not forcing any of you stop doing this, but I am saying that it’s not right; robbing, killing, they’re two of the goddamned commandments, the hell are we doin’ this for anyway?!” he slammed his glass down on the table and it cracked.
“Because we can’t do anything else!” Swiftshot spoke up, “Just because we can learn anything doesn’t mean we’ll be let to do anything! That’s why we’re runnin’ from the authorities anyway! Your face might be the one that everyone knows, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t know ours. We do this because we’ve got nothin’ else!” Swiftshot gulped his anger and calmed himself down, “We’ve got nothin’ else but the gallows...”
The others murmured their agreements with Swiftshot’s words. Solomon sighed.
“You know I’m not stopping you boys, I said that, and I mean it. Life is a choice, but sometimes those choices interfere with someone else’s and...well...we get stuck there,” he took off his hat and looked it over in his hands, “But it doesn’t mean we don’t still have a choice.”
He stood up and handed his hat to Ace. The poor youth almost burst into to tears right there, but he held them back as Solomon had to force Ace’s trembling hands to take his hat.
“They’re your boys now, Ace.” Solomon whispered.
The saloon was still full of other merrymakers and Solomon hoped that they might lift the group’s moods as he pushed through the bar’s swinging doors. He didn’t dare look back to see his men’s heartbreaking expressions as they shouted his name.
It wouldn’t do anything but hurt.